Tuesday 27 March 2012


James "Jim" Stynes OAM (23 April 1966 – 20 March 2012) was a prominent Irish Australian best known for his career as a professional Australian rules football player and administrator but also as a philanthropist, charity worker and writer. During his 264 game career with the Melbourne Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL) between 1987 and 1998, Stynes become the only non-Australian-born VFL/AFL player to win the prestigious Brownlow Medal, which he achieved in 1991 and he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Stynes had a high profile in both Australia and Ireland as a result of his involvement in the Melbourne Football Club's ambitious international recruitment program (now known as the "Irish experiment"). Born in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, where he was a promising Gaelic footballer, Stynes made an ambitious move to Australia at the age of 18 following his side's win in the 1984 All-Ireland Minor Football Championship. Debuting in the Australian Football League in 1987, he played a league record 244 consecutive games between 1987 and 1998. He also represented Victoria in interstate football matches, and both Australia and Ireland in international rules football, a hybrid of Gaelic football and Australian rules football.

Following his football career, Stynes focussed on youth work using his profile to launch the Reach Foundation, which he co-founded in 1994. As a result of his work with young people in Victoria he was named Victorian of the Year twice, in 2001 and 2003, and with the expanded profile of Reach nationally, awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2007. Stynes also served as president of the Melbourne Football Club from 2008 and was involved in fundraising efforts which brought the club out of debt. In 2009, Stynes was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma and continued to work during his treatment for brain metastasis. He died in March, 2012 and was honoured by a state funeral which was held at St. Paul's cathedral in Melbourne on Tuesday, 27 March 2012.

Melbourne Town Hall with the flag flying half-mast. St Paul's Cathedral in the back
The crowd outside the Cathedral
Federation Square opposite the Cathedral
The crowd outside Flinders Street Station
St Pauls Cathedral 
The Cortege leaving the Cathedral
The cars of the family and close friends following the hearse and proceeding through the guard of honour
Even a cocky decided to attend the funeral... 
Crowd in Federation Square, many wearing the Melbourne Football Club scarf
The Melbourne Football Club flag was flying
A lot of heartfelt emotion was evident, and this was one of the quietest crowds that I have experienced...
Crowd dispersing after the funeral is over
A rare site on Flinders St - traffic completely stopped and the street converted to a pedestrian mall! 
Vale, Jim Stynes! (Photo courtesy of ABC, taken by David Crosling)